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Creeslough blast victim remembered at funeral for her ‘love’ and ‘kindness’

Jessica Gallagher is the first of ten victims of the explosion in the Co Donegal village to be laid to rest.

11 October 2022

A fashion designer killed in an explosion at a service station in Ireland has been remembered at her funeral for her “love, affection, kindness and warmth”.

Jessica Gallagher, 24, is the first of the 10 victims of Friday’s tragedy in the Co Donegal village of Creeslough to be laid to rest.

Hundreds of mourners attended St Michael’s Church in Creeslough on Tuesday.

Explosion at Donegal service station
Jessica Gallagher (Garda/PA)

Mass for another victim – 49-year-old Martin McGill, who was originally from Scotland – will be held at St Michael’s later on Tuesday.

The President of Ireland, Michael D Higgins, and the country’s premier, Micheal Martin, were represented by aide-de-camps from the Irish Defence Forces at the first service.

A number of emergency responders, who took part in the 24-hour recovery operation at the blast site, also attended.

After Ms Gallagher’s body was carried into the church in a wicker casket, Father John Joe Duffy extended his “sincere and heartfelt sympathies” to her parents Anthony and Bernie, her two sisters and her boyfriend Conor.

In his homily, Fr Duffy said Ms Gallagher “radiated a warm and positive feeling” to all who knew her well.

He described her as the “jewel” of her family.

Explosion at Donegal service station
The family of Jessica Gallagher, 24, watch as her coffin leaves St Michael’s Church (Liam McBurney/PA)

The priest said she left ripples of “love, affection, kindness and warmth” wherever she went.

“We are experiencing – you, the family – are experiencing that most difficult challenge of all – the pain and hardship of having to say goodbye to Jessica today,” he said.

“That pain and hardship that other families are experiencing, and I know that other families have been with you that have lost a loved one and those who have a loved one in hospital at this time.

“That pain has been felt in our parish and in our neighbouring parishes when the pathway in which Jessica and others were travelling through life was so abruptly ended by this tragic accident.

“I wish I, as a priest, could explain that more fully in a way that words could explain it, but we do not have words to explain it, for words would make no sense or couldn’t give it sense.

“I am part of you, part of this community, and it is together that we will make the journey and travel that journey going forward, supporting each other as so many people have been doing.

“Our entire community is hurting, our hearts are heavy, but our spirits are strong.”

Explosion at Donegal service station
Ten people died in the blast (Garda/PA)

The 10 victims were aged from five to 59.

Ireland’s police force, An Garda Siochana, continues to investigate the cause of the blast, in a building complex which included the service station, a shop and apartments.

It is being treated as a “tragic accident”.

A gas leak is one theory, it is believed.

The other eight victims were 50-year-old Robert Garwe and his five-year-old daughter Shauna Flanagan Garwe, who were in the shop to buy a birthday cake; 48-year-old James O’Flaherty; 14-year-old Leona Harper; 39-year-old Catherine O’Donnell and her 13-year-old son James Monaghan; 59-year-old Hugh Kelly and 49-year-old Martina Martin.

Mr O’Flaherty’s funeral will be at St Mary’s Church in Derrybeg on Wednesday morning.

A joint service will be held for Ms O’Donnell and her son James at St Michael’s in Creeslough on Wednesday afternoon.

Ms Harper’s funeral will take place at St Mary’s Church in Ramelton on Thursday.

Mrs Martin, a mother of four, will also be laid to rest on Thursday with a service at St Michael’s Church, Creeslough.

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